Raúl Isaías Baduel, who once served as Venezuela’s defense minister, now faces an 8-year prison sentence after being found guilty on corruption charges. He has already been in prison for more than a year, pending the trial’s outcome. Baduel had resigned his position in the government three years ago over concerns about the regime’s direction, including the expansion of President Hugo Chávez’s power.
Those opposed to the Venezuelan government will likely interpret this ruling as another sign that the country’s leaders do not accept alternative viewpoints, even the critiques of its former allies.
In the world of Chávez loyalty is extremely important. You are either with him or against him – and there are often consequences for those who choose this second option. Anyone who signed a petition in support of a vote to recall President Chávez in 2004 were blacklisted and are banned from working for the state after their names were leaked in what is known as Tascon’s List. In the case of Baduel, even though he played a crucial role by enabling Chávez to regain power during the 2002 coup attempt, his opposition to the expansion of the president’s control appears to have been too much to overlook. He is not the first former official of the administration to be imprisoned.
Supporters of Chávez, however, probably do not see these as trumped up accusations against Baduel. Instead, they likely see the impending punishment as just desserts for charges that nearly $4 million of funds were unaccounted for when he was in office.